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Cellecta Awarded Phase II SBIR Grant to Finalize Development of CRISPR Screening Platform

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Cellecta announced today that it has been awarded a Phase II SBIR grant from the National Institutes of Health to complete development of a genome-wide CRISPR/Cas9 screening platform that it aims to commercialize by late 2018.

CRISPR/Cas9 involves the use of an enzyme to cause double-strand DNA breaks that induce gene silencing. The process can be targeted to specific areas of the genome using so-called single guide RNAs (sgRNAs).

With the $651,831 grant, Cellecta aims to finalize work on a set of high efficiency, ready-to-screen, genome-wide pooled sgRNA human and mouse CRISPR lentiviral libraries, which the company said will feature multiple sgRNAs for the specific induction of permanent gene disruption, enhanced gene activation, and gene inhibition.

It is also developing related protocols, reagents, and software tools for analyzing and validating screening data, and plans to offer custom services for CRISPR library design, CRISPR functional genetic screening, and hit confirmation/validation assays.

"The work we are carrying out supported by this Phase II grant will accelerate systematic identification of new drug and biomarker targets, as well as facilitate the development of more successful targeted therapeutics," Cellecta R&D Director Donato Tedesco said in a statement.

The Phase II grant follows Cellecta's receipt of a $224,908 Phase I SBIR grant in 2015 to develop the CRISPR/Cas9 technology.